Research Note. Rules as Code

Matthew Waddington   | Bio
Legislative Drafting Office, Jersey


“Rules as Code” is a label adopted by people in governments working on the idea of encoding (or just marking up) legislation while it is being drafted, so that the logic of the resulting legislation can be “read” (and checked) by a computer, to improve the manner in which legislation is produced and the way in which it is available digitally. The idea is currently attracting attention in the legal community, particularly on the question of whether it will lead to automation replacing human interpretation of the law. This note briefly describes Rules as Code, at least as conceived by a legislative drafter. It argues that this conception of Rules as Code does not have the over-reaching ambitions that it may sometimes appear to harbour, and in particular does not trespass into removing key interpretative functions.




Bailey, D., Norbury, L. 2020. Bennion, Bailey and Norbury on Statutory Interpretation. 8th Edition, LexisNexis Butterworths.
Deakin, S., Markou, C. (eds.). 2020. Is Law Computable? Critical Perspectives on Law and Artificial Intelligence, Oxford: Hart Publishing.
GNZ. Government of New Zealand. 2018. Better Rules for Go-vernment Discovery Report. March,
GNZ. Government of New Zealand. 2019. What is Better Rules? By H. Fraser, 20 December,
GNSW. Government of New South Wales. 2019. Rules as Code.
Governatori, G., Barnes, J.,Zeleznikow, J., de Koker, L., Poblet, M., Hashmi, M., Casanovas, P. 2020. “‘Rules as Code’ will let computers apply laws and regulations. But over-rigid interpretations would undermine our freedoms”, The Conversation, November 26th.
McNaughton, S. 2019. “Week 64 — The State of Rules as Code in the Government of Canada”.
Mohun, J. and Roberts, A. 2020. "Cracking the code: Rulemaking for humans and machines", OECD Working Papers on Public Governance, No. 42, OECD Publishing, Paris,
Palmirani, M., Cervone, L., Bujor, O. and Chiappetta, M., 2013a. “RAWE: a web editor for rule markup in LegalRuleML”. Proceedings of the 7th International Rule Challenge, the HLT and the DC at RuleML2013, the 8th International Symposium on Rules. In CEUR workshop proceedings, Vol. 1004.
Palmirani, M., Cervone, L., Bujor, O., Chiapetta, M. 2013b. “RAWE: An Editor for Rule Markup of Legal Texts”, OASIS,
Sartor, G., 2006. “Fundamental legal concepts: A formal and teleological characterisation.” Artificial Intelligence and Law, 14 (1-2): 101-142.
Sergot, M.J., Sadri, F., Kowalski, R.A., Kriwaczek, F., Hammond, P. and Cory, H.T. 1986a. “The British Nationality Act as a logic program”, Communications of the ACM, 29(5): 370-386.
Sergot, M., Cory, T., Hammond, P., Kowalski, R., Kriwaczek, F. and Sadri, F., 1986b. “Formalisation of the British nationality act”, International Review of Law, Computers & Technology, 2 (1): 40-52.
Waddington, M. 2020. “Non-financial legislation: human input, discretion & logic.” Rules as Code Knowledge-Sharing Event, 28 February, Bank of England.
Wyner, A. 2019. “Annotating and Querying Content within Machine-readable Legal Instruments”, Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, London May 21.
Wyner, A., Gough, F., Levy, F., Lynch, M. and Nazarenko, A. 2017. “On Annotation of the Textual Contents of Scottish Legal Instruments”. A. Wyner and G. Casini (eds.) Legal Knowledge and Information Systems, JURIX-2017, Amsterdam: IOS Press, 101-106.
How to Cite
Waddington M. Research Note. Rules as Code . LiC [Internet]. 2021Jan.3 [cited 2021Jan.23];37(1):1-. Available from:

Send mail to Author

Send Cancel